Insight and information on the cultural scene in Denver Colorado. Find out what’s happening and when, who’s going to be there! News on the groups that support the arts in Denver.

http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/arts-culture/stories/cultured-people-happier-less-stressed.

People who go to museums and concerts or create art or play an instrument are more satisfied with life, regardless of how educated or rich they are.


For years we’ve read studies about how arts in education create better students, especially with the math+music connection. Here’s proof (I’m calling it proof) that you don’t have to be Baby Mozart or write the Great American Novel to benefit from the creative spirit. Partaking in the experience is a spiritual anti-oxidant of its own.
Cultural institutions work hard raising funds and keeping doors open and the gift of your attention helps them keep giving, creating a rich communal experience and increasing the value of our cities. When funding issues hit the ballot the arts are ofttimes berated. Seems to me the beraters might be happier if they picked up that dusty guitar in the basement or that watercolour they’d judged themselves harshly for and didn’t finish.
We’re inundated with news of of the benefits of exercise and healthful eating; we would be well served to take heed of our need for arts & culture as well.

I grew up in a Dream House; a California Contemporary, resting in the shadow of a graceful Fredrick L Roehrig home, built for publisher Andrew McNally in 1893. This home gave birth to the future Spanish Colonial Revivalist master, Wallace Neff, and was his childhood home. You can see from the picture where he took his inspiration. My home inspired me as well as I trace time, I see its watermark upon my life. Maybe it was the land, a Spanish grant called Rancho Los Coyote, or the publisher who purchased it and planted the 500 acres of olive trees, or the proximity to Disneyland that made me who I am today; writer/ dreamer/Realtor. It all begins at home.
Long summer days were spent in the ‘cement pond’ or playing Barbies on the warm deck coping. Is it any wonder I love Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, David Hockney and Dream House Acres? Check the vid and you’ll see what I mean. xoxo

One of Denver’s architectural wonders is the Fredrick C Hamilton Building, designed by Daniel Libeskind at the Denver Art Museum.. With its jutting roof line and walls all akimbo, I love its mix of elegance and surprise. Apparently the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent did too because when DAM Director, Christoph Heinrich, approached them to host the Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective they said “Oui”. They make for a chic ensemble and quite the coup. Denver is the only stop in North America before this exquisite exhibit heads south of the border. New York must be green with envy.

When Yves Saint Laurent took his seam ripper to the nipped Dior waistline, he unleashed the power of the modern woman and seems to have designed her wardrobe for the past 50 years. The words ‘jumpsuit, pantsuit, safari look and bolero jacket’ were rarely heard before the genius of the YSL moment, and never to describe fashion. Influenced by global culture, Saint Laurent drew his inspiration from the arts and artists, from operas, literary figures, personal muses and “aesthetic ghosts;” he has woven time into the timeless.

Read more.
The Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective lands in Denver for an exclusive look into the designer’s genius. The Denver Art Museum is the only North American stop as this exquisite exhibit travels from Paris to South America. Why? “Because I asked.” says DAM Director, Christoph Heinrich. With the integration of local fashion stars and designers included in the gift shop and gallery, I say “Magnifique!”

I live and work in a city that fosters and grows its arts and cultural community, lights the way with a beacon of alternative energy investment, and preserves the character of the city’s neighborhoods and Technicolor past… That’s something to look up to.


It is not because I was raised in California in the 60s, vote Democratic, eat granola or need a job. (I don’t. I have two, thank you) It’s not because I’ve made or lost a fortune in the stock market, am I anti-American, anti-corporation or want to bring capitalism to its bloody knees. I do not want to share my personal story of loss, health insurance, rate-jacking on credit card rates or banking fees here, I take responsibility for the decisions I’ve made and their consequences. And I’ll leave the commentary on the inner-machinations of who/how/why we got here to the pundits and those far more adept at these things than I.
Most of my professional life has been spent working in television and as theater artist; actor, director & playwright, and I’ve made a living doing what I love. I am at home with the dramatic expression of ideas, comfortable with change and used to the variables of a 1099 income. Suffice it to say Occupy Wall Street is not my first drum circle jam. But that’s not why I’m speaking out. Six years ago, when the prospect of single-motherhood was looming, I got my real estate license, worked my ass off in a difficult market and for the most part it has been good to me (I’m used to the variable income, remember?). I’ve worked the luxury market, helped buyers find their first homes, move up to larger spaces, and have numerous investors who’ve increased their cash flow with rental and fix & flip properties. I find it very gratifying and I’m good at it.
I support Occupy Wall Street because as a Realtor©, I have worked to save clients from foreclosure, spent hours negotiating with banks over short sales, sat around kitchen tables listening to frustrations with loan modifications, and spent as much on tissue as I have on champagne. (Okay, I exaggerate, but you get the idea.) I have seen this at all income levels and from clients who did not take out loans they could not afford, use their homes as ATMs or over-purchase. When they bought the future was bright and the payments were manageable. When the bubble burst and a few of life’s bumps hit (illness, divorce, job loss or downsizing) they tried valiantly to keep their obligations and pay the mortgage…until the day they couldn’t and their homes were worth less than they owed.
We may not all share an aching drive to be rich, but I’d bet that most of us want to work hard, prosper and live comfortably enough to invest in our futures, save for our children’s college and be prepared for retirement. We’d even like a vacation or two. For years we’ve trod along hoping things would get better and worked hard to make that a reality, even if the price of our hope was the depletion of our savings. At last we are exhausted. Too many Silverado, WorldCom and Goldman Sachs sagas played out on the nightly news, followed by stories of bailouts and bonuses for those who’ve shamelessly played fast and loose with our lives.
The tide has turned in America and around the world. The tsunami is hurling us forward faster than we’ve ever collectively moved before and there is no turning back. The social/political, dare I say… evolution is upon us, the old ways are outmoded and there’s no point in retreating to their ice age. It is time to start the conversation. We’ll figure out what the next best step is, but for now… shut up and listen.

If you could see yourself as others see you, would you be surprised? I’d venture a guess that it would be quite different than you see yourself in a number of ways. There are adjectives we’ve heard all our lives from parents friends and lovers, some of them flattering and some we’ve carted around clumsily, like overstuffed luggage with a broken wheel. Why do we deny ownership of the positive qualities bestowed, and draw the fear feeding ones like picnic ants to the watermelon of our souls? And does it ever seem to you that other people don’t do that or is it just me?
Recently I did an interview with Nancy Koontz for the Blacktie Colorado site. The series, called “Have You Met?”, profiles members of Denver’s art, cultural and philanthropic communities, allowing us to get to know one another deeper than the cocktail party or social event allows. Usually I’m the interviewer so this turnabout gave me an opportunity to sit on the other side of the table. I’d been sent a list of questions prior to our ‘sit down’ so I had some time to contemplate my answers and made it a point to dig a little deeper, but what surprised me was my reaction to reading the final post. It was Nancy’s preamble that got me. Reading on the New York subway, I laughed out loud in a relapse of middle-school self-consciousness. “That’s total bullshit” was my first thought, my second… why would I think that?
Is it in our Judeo-Christian culture that ingrains a deep sense of unworthiness within us? Though I was raised without religious ideology, I’ve been on the planet long enough to know that praise is generally bestowed upon good dogs and the Lord. Refusing to allow another’s opinion of or feeling for you into your heart diminishes both giver and receiver.
As the world has become a public shout out we carefully craft and cultivate our online reputation with the real-time self-promotional ticker of social media. Opinions swarm like killer bees, bringing vitriol and condemnation into our daily experience with the blogs, news coverage and unwanted emails flooding our collective inbox. It is no wonder we feel downhearted, for what gets put out into the world the world becomes. So how ’bout a little balance? I’m not talking about posting positive quotes to balance the snark, but taking the time to engage in and embrace the good, starting with self. The introspective tend to take criticism, mull it over in search of its validity and the possibility of self-improvement. How lovely to do the same with praise. So, I have a question for you. How would your life be different if you took all of the good people see in you and reflect about you and accepted it as true?

Look for the Thriving Artist Alliance banner!


Sunday picnics at City Park Jazz have long been one of my favorite summer rituals and judging by its growth the feeling is mutual. The atmosphere is fun and communal. far beyond a basket of egg salad sandwiches and a blanket, some people really work it: linen draped tables with champagne flutes, portable grills, netted tents and lawn games dot the landscape, festival style as Denver comes out to play.
So I thought… If I park it, will they come? What if you knew you could show up spontaneously, no blanket, no food, no hassle except the parking? What if you had one place where you could meet the friends who are already there scattered around, meet new friends and have an eclectic mix every week? That’s what I was thinkin’. I’ll get there early and set up space and provide something to eat. You show up, walk or roll north on the pathway from 17th Ave toward the band shelter. Look to your right, between the lake and the road and somewhere along the way you’ll see the THRIVING ARTIST ALLIANCE banner hanging from a tree or staked in the ground. Some weeks you may want to bring food and drink, others you can show up empty handed and share in the feast laid out before you. Bring your kids, your friends, your bikes, skateboards, a Frisbee or a ball… sometimes an umbrella. Where else can you eat, drink, dance and celebrate the season? And it’s free. We’ll be there around 5:00, music goes from 6-8. For more information, event updates and who’s playing each week, find me on Facebook or check out Sunday Dinner under events.

Beautiful friends and gorgeous sunsets rock City Park Jazz

It’s been more than ten years since the evening I spent in heated conversation with a small group of theatrical dreamers. Actor/Director, Warren Sherrill, had just dragged me back onto the boards, directing me in a production of “Marvin’s Room” at the Denver Civic where I was blessed to share the stage with the lovely, talented and wittily acerbic Carolyn Valentine. That’s what put me in the room. The first meeting took place around a dining room table in southeast Denver; me, Warren, Lisa Rucker (Moon for the Misbegotten), and if I had more memory I’d recall who else was there (apologies, it’s been ten years;). Michael Stricker and Barbra Andrews were en route from Chicago after a bit of time working with Steppenwolf, but their praises were sung loud and clear. The result of this and subsequent meetings was what we now know at the Paragon Theatre Ensemble.
From a dining room table, to a dream, Paragon has built one of Denver’s premiere theater companies, growing their work season after season, maturing into perhaps the most consistent mid-sized company in Denver. When they began, our theater scene was quite different. Stalwarts of the day have closed, upstarts who planted seeds were blown away as many well intentioned theater groups found the artistic soil far too rocky to take firm root.
Paragon began with a clear vision, a modest business plan, and a high work ethic, then set out to produce quality theater which allowed them to carve out a niche for themselves in Denver theater. They saw a need and the over-filled it. The level of talent in the acting and producing company and the detailed professionalism in their planning and rehearsal process, the careful way they’ve cultivated their acting and directing pool have put the fun and the function into the dysfunctional family that is a theatre company.
Paragon is the only Denver company to present staged readings of works by Colorado/Wyoming playwrights in their Trench series, and they go a step further by considering these plays for full production. Two of my scripts, (w)hole, Saints & Hysterics, have been produced by Paragon through this process, as well as a play by Ellen K Graham. It takes guts to produce new works; it takes balls to produce new work by local playwrights.
Paragon has continued to build momentum by offering a blend of classic plays and edgy new pieces. Over the past few seasons, they’ve included a Equity guest artist contract in their season, bringing Denver Center fav, Sam Gregory, some of the most delicious roles. Hopefully the Equity idea will continue and expand.
On Saturday the 25th, Paragon will be holding their 10th Anniversary with a ‘gala’ (love that word) celebration at the Garner Galleria Theatre at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Part presentation, part profit, and all party, that’s my take on what the night will bring. Perhaps the hardest working, most fun to play with group of theater artists in the metro area, the Galleria may be the place to be come Saturday night.
Personally, I plan on moving from that dining room table straight up to the bar in celebration of a great decade of theatre. I’m a sucker for a success story. Hats off to you, Paragon Theatre Ensemble, congratulations on a decade of great work. Now put your lips together and blow~
tickets available at www.paragontheatre.org

Perhaps you’ve heard of Prudence Mabhena, read about her in the Sunday paper, heard the story on NPR, caught the film about her at the Telluride Film Festival, or saw her beaming at the Oscars when Music by Prudence won Best Documentary.
There is a lot to know about Prudence Mabhena, a lot to learn from her as well. Born with a disfiguring congenital disorder called arthrogryposis, her twisted limbs meant she’d never walk, and so they were amputated below the knees. Her journey from Zimbabwe to the global stage has been told in many forms, a tragedy-to-triumph in a tale that lifts our spirits to the realm of possibility and teaches us to just get over ourselves. But where we really have an opportunity to learn from Prudence is by hearing her sing. That is possible for Denver this Sunday as Prudence joins jazz concept band Zuri at the Mercury Cafe for a 2:00 benefit concert. Wednesday night’s higher priced film screening and meet ‘n greet with Prudence at the Denver Film Center promises to be a moving and inspiring event. The $30 ticket for the Mercury gig promises to be a blow-the-roof-off-the- house experience! Both raise money for King of Kindness, Noel Cunningham’s foundation. Should be amazing, Grace.
Prudence Sings Amazing Grace at Kennedy Center

American in Hiding, a bracing new play by Tracy Shaffer, will be presented as part of the 2011 Telluride Playwrights Festival “American in Hiding”, says Shaffer “is the story of an America family, taking refuge with friends in Amsterdam after Thom slips on the soapbox of his professorial profession. Unable to contain his ego, he sets himself up in Dam Square, ranting the hypocrisies of his homeland and how far she’s come from the Utopian dreams of her Founding Fathers, without realizing that his actions dictate a risky future.”
This year marks a departure for the Festival. Rather than soliciting submissions from a national pool of writers, Festival Director, Jennie Franks shifts her focus to ‘growing local’, nurturing the talents of Rocky Mountain writers and dipping into the Denver talent pool for her lead actors. TPF will mix it up a bit this year: Ms Shaffer’s script receives a week of rehearsals & revisions with a public staged reading at week’s end with audience feedback. Acclaimed playwrights, Judy GeBauer, Ellen K Graham and Gary Leon Hill (who joins after a week at the Seven Devils Playwrights Conference) work their scripts in open workshop (public welcome), salon readings and read excerpts in the evening Play Slam at the Steaming Bean. The Telluride Playwrights Festival will become a producing/presenting entity this season as it brings a fully staged production of William Missouri Downs’ “Forgiving John Lennon” into town from the University of Wyoming where Downs is a professor. Telluride Playwrights Festival takes place July 12-18.
Telluride Inside writer, Susan Viebrock, described it this way.

The Telluride Playwright Festival operates like grow dome for fruits and veggies: brand new plays are watered and tended in a safe environment. After they grow and flourish, they are sent out into the world to be enjoyed. Larimore’s “Out of Askja” is one of a number of fine plays that were transplanted from Telluride to fertile soil around the country. Tracy Shaffer’s (W)Hole, also a Playwright Festival alum from 2008, received raves from The Denver Post critic and other rags when it was produced this past fall at Denver’s Paragon Theatre. Next spring, James Still’s play “Love Me Some Amnesia,” one of Playwright Festival’s picks for a 2010 staged reading is scheduled to be produced in Chicago at the American Blues Theatre. And so on.

This spring, Denver placed a respectful #3 on the first annual PR Newswire “Cities on the Edge” study. Factors like our love of extreme sports, a thriving music, arts & cultural scene, the respectful way we’re building green, contributed to our raise rank as well as the perception that we are ‘poised for greatness.’ Of course, we who live in Denver could have told them this. Over the past fifteen years, we’ve watched our Mile High City grow and flourish right before our eyes. We’ve built and rebuilt, created and recreated, and come into our own through the hard work and dedication of our citizens, our leaders and our innovators. We’ve hosted the World Series and the Democratic National Convention, won two Stanley Cups, two Superbowls, built or expanded four museums, created four or five arts districts and some sassy neighborhoods, grown our theatres to the nation’s center stage and thrown some bands into the spotlight. Colorado is on fire!
(…didn’t Governor Owens land in hot water for saying that?)

One thing about living here that makes us great beyond the flash is our strong sense of community. On an early, drizzly morning last week, I roused my grousing sons out of bed and joined more than 500 volunteers for Concert for Kids’ Community Day, a masterfully planned day of giving back. Over 40 of the metro area’s non-profit organizations welcomed busloads of volunteers to their sites for fix-up projects. We were transported to the Bridge Project to complete a to-do list that included painting, landscaping, and cleaning, prior to the Monday morning carpet installation. With goods, services, labor and lunch donated by denizens and sponsors, a slam-dunk day of facility improvement allows these organizations to use their operating funds for the primary programming needs.

I had no idea what to expect from putting a roller and paint brush into the hands of my twelve and seventeen year old sons on a sleep-in-Saturday morning. Could this present a problem? Possibly, but not this day. This was a day of cheerful teamwork, service to others and the kind of hard work they’re rarely asked to do at home. I was uplifted by seeing them in this light; the strong and giving young men they’d grown to be. They were gratified having done something for someone else, and satisfied by the joy they left behind. It’s this kind of dig in and get it done spirit that tips Denver over the edge of greatness and Concert for Kids makes it doable. In gratitude, this weekend CFK presents the Denver Day of Rock in venues throughout the downtown area. Listen to the Gin Blossoms, the music of Styx, the Railbenders and more. Get on your feet and dance some Zydeco with your friends, your family and the strangers you’ll call friends by day’s end. There’s nothing like dancing in the streets to get the summer into full swing!